Featuring a wide range of artworks in varied media and styles by a diverse group of artists, Art on the Ave has enlivened the visual landscape of Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Both vacant and retail storefronts have been showcasing artworks — many fashioned by underrepresented artists — that speak to our immediate times. Conceived this past June by three NYC teachers, the project has a strong educational component, as well.

The image featured above, We the People, is the work of mixed-media African-American artist and arts educator Lance Johnson. Several more images from Art on the Ave — spanning 67th to 77th Street on Columbus Avenue — follow:

From A.J. Stetson’s remarkable photography project Masked NYC: Witness to Our Time 

And dozens more installed on the fence of PS 334 at West 77th Street 

Fine art photographer Kevin Kinner, Close-up from huge installation of silhouette profiles

Feminist artist and gallerist Audrey Anastasi, Touch, Charcoal and mixed media collage on paper

Artist and game developer Steve Derrick, Alissa Hammer RN, NYU Langone Hospital NYC — from his series of portraits of frontline workers

The hugely imaginative Jon Barwick, Facet, Acrylic on canvas

Serving as creative consultant for Art on the Ave — that continues through January 31 — is Lisa DuBois, director of X Gallery in Harlem. For further information on this project, check here.

Photo credits:

1 Lance Johnson; 2, 4-7 Lois Stavsky

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On view at the prestigious National Arts Club through January 27, 2021 is Voices of the Soho Renaissance, an exhibition showcasing several artworks that had first surfaced on the plywood used to board up stores in Soho earlier this year. For those of us who first saw these works in their original sites, it is a delight to view them in such a stately setting. And if you missed seeing them earlier on, this is your chance!

The image featured above, The River Unconscious, is the work of the immensely talented Brooklyn-based artist Brendan T McNally. Additional images of artworks by members of the The Soho Renaissance Factory (SRF) on view follow:

Politically conscious African-American, Brooklyn-bred Amir Diop, “Samson and the 400 Years of Bondage”

Lebanese-American glass and light artist Trevor Croop AKA Light Noise in collaboration with Amir Diop, “We Are Used in Your Wars Even Though We Can Be Gone in a Flash”

Trevor Croop AKA Light Noise, “Change”

Native New Yorker Sulé whose masked characters don timely political slogans, “My Execution Might Be Televised”

Indigenous American multimedia artist Konstance Patton, “Godezz Mildred of Peace and Comforter of the Inner Child”

Brooklyn-based  Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator, “Brooklyn Bridge March for Justice”

Along with these artworks on exhibit are more than two dozen photographs documenting these extraordinary times — when protests were sweeping our streets daily — by acclaimed photographer Graham Macindoe.

Located at 15 Gramercy Park South, the galleries at the National Arts Club are open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is free, and you can make a reservation by filling out this form.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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When the plywood returned to the streets of Soho shortly before the November presidential election, the artists got busy again. What a treat for us street art lovers! The image pictured above is the work of the increasingly prolific NYC-based Pure Genius. A small sampling of what’s been happening on the streets of Soho follows:

Brooklyn-based Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator with a call to support small businesses

Eyes that Love Art brings his mixed-media aesthetic to Grand Street plywood

Konstance Patton‘s signature lady with Amir Diop‘s political art to her right

Konstance Patton with a message; Sule on the door to her right and Light Noise above them both

Two short-lived works by One Rad Latina in her signature style

One of several collaborative works by Calicho and Jeff Rose King

Photo credits: 1, 4 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3, 5 & 7 Ana Candelaria; 

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Upper Manhattan — the place John Audubon had called home — hosts a huge range of public artworks featuring images of  climate-endangered birds. Within a few blocks of the recently-installed mosaic mural — fashioned by Carlos Pinto and John Sear — over a dozen murals have made their way into the neighborhood since I’d last documented the hugely impressive Audubon Mural Project back in 2018.

The image featured above, “Goose Gets Down,” was recently painted by the legendary NYC-based Snoeman. Several more murals of endangered birds follow — all curated by Avi Gitler, who founded and spearheads this remarkable  project.

Brooklyn-based George Boorujy, Gang of Warblers

Also by George Boorujy, Greater Sage-Grouse

Australian-born Jacinta Stewart, American Three-toed Woodpecker and Bullock’s Oriole — segment of larger mural that also features a Red-breasted Sapsucker

Harlem-based Marthalicia Matarrita, Gray Hawk

And as seen last week at the New York Historical Society on the Upper West Side: Brooklyn-based Australian native Damien Mitchell, Peregrine Falcon, photographed by Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Photo credits: 1 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard; 2-6 Lois Stavsky

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163rd Street off Broadway was the place to be last week.  Multidisciplinary artists Carlos Pinto and John Sear brought their wondrous skills to The Audubon Mural Project, adding two elegant trumpeter swans to the approximately 100 uptown murals featuring endangered birds. The Audubon Project’s first mosaic mural fashioned entirely with recycled objects — from shards of glass to shattered plates  — garnered a huge welcome from the neighborhood, with volunteers eager to assist in the process.

Featured above is the completed mural that was captured this past Monday. The images that follow were taken last week as the mural was still in progress:

Carlos Pinto at work

And from another angle

John Sear at work

The artists take a brief break

Local folks assist Carlos Pinto and John Sear 

John Sear speaks to Audubon Mural Project director and curator Avi Gitler, who is standing next to Totem TC5‘s memorial to his son, Chris — a special, welcome addition to the mural

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 7 Lois Stavsky;  3-6 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard 

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The following guest post was written by Juyoun Han, an attorney at Eisenberg & Baum, LLP

According to the New York Times, Black Lives Matter protests may have been the largest movement in U.S. history, and the most vigilant of these protests remain on the walls, corners, and surfaces of streets that we walk by every day. In cities across the country — Seattle, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York City — artists banded together to use their creativity as a powerful visual advocacy against racial injustice. World-renowned artist Banksy, for example, created a painting that depicts a candle at a memorial starting a small flame at the corner of a U.S. flag. Banksy expressed his support for the BLM movement in an Instagram post, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system.”

Unfortunately, these murals are short-lived, either because they are immediately tagged or destroyed by dissenters who blithely deny America’s problem of racism. Artists who had transformed boarded-up businesses into powerful BLM art witnessed their art getting thrown out by storeowners. Such defacement of protest art is unfortunately a recurring violation. In 2014, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, a renowned Portland-based artist, Ashley Montague, painted a mural of late Brown entitled “Status Quo.” Unfortunately, the mural was tagged and painted over.

Now, here’s the good news: the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA Law”) may be the key to protecting and preserving these artworks. Under this law, the creators of 5Pointz recently cemented a victory after declination of review by the U.S. Supreme Court, obtaining a $6.75 million award against a luxury condo developer who destroyed what was previously considered to be “the world’s premier graffiti mecca.” The lawsuit sets a powerful precedent that may be relied upon to protect BLM murals.

Q&A about VARA Law for street artists:

My artwork was completely destroyed. Can it be protected under VARA?

Yes. VARA law protects artworks from being destroyed, but you will need to prove that the work gained “recognized stature.” This means that your work must have gained recognition by the art community and the public. There are many ways to meet this “recognized stature” standard. For example, you can show that your artwork garnered social media attention and other press coverage, that other members of the art community vouched for your work, or that your work had been featured in movies or videos.

My work is not destroyed, but some people tagged it and now it is a mockery. Does the law protect me?

Yes. VARA protects against modification, distortion, or mutilation of artworks that harms an artist’s reputation. For example, removing and making changes to sculptures made to be installed for a certain space, or partially painting over an original mural and allowing the public to see the distorted art form can harm the original artist’s esteem and reputation in the community. Even an emerging artist can show that the artist’s reputation has been harmed on a case-by-case basis. After all, part of the goal of VARA law is to protect works of lesser known artists as well as artists who have already gained fame

What if multiple artists collaborated on a single piece of artwork?

VARA may protect artwork even if it was created by multiple artists as a collaboration piece; not every artist involved needs to be famous. Even an artwork led by an artist joined by a community of teenage students can be protected under VARA.

If I am hired to install the art, can I still gain protection under VARA?

No. If you were hired to install a piece of art, then the “work-for-hire” exception applies and VARA will not protect your artwork.

What kind of protection would I gain under VARA?

If your artwork has already been destroyed, you can bring a legal action for compensation. If you have knowledge that your work may be destroyed in the future, you can prevent that from happening by requesting a legal injunction. You are also entitled to a 90-day notice before your work is removed.

What kinds of murals will VARA NOT protect?

If you signed a document or “waiver” of your VARA rights, then you cannot try to preserve your work. If you created an artwork on a property without permission or authorization from the property owner, this is a grey area—there is at least one legal case that says VARA law will not protect unauthorized artworks. However, if the artwork is removable (for example, on a board or a canvas) from the wall of the building, it might be protected even if not authorized.

If your artwork was not destroyed but modified due to normal wear and tear, or due to weather or climate change, it can be more difficult to ask for legal recovery. Also, the following forms of art are excluded from VARA protection: works made for hire, posters, maps, globes or charts, technical drawings, diagrams, models, applied art, motion pictures, books and other publications, electronic publications, merchandising items or advertising, promotional, descriptive, covering, packaging material or container; nor does VARA  cover any work not subject to general copyright protection.

Does it matter which state I live in?

No. VARA law is federal law, so it applies no matter which state you live in. However, there are state laws that are similar to VARA, which may give you additional legal protection.

What can artists do to protect their art?

Authorization – gaining authorization, preferably in writing, from the owner of the mural’s site to create your artwork will be advantageous in a legal action.

Recognition – the more the artist can show recognition (e.g. social media, press coverage, public and art community’s acclaim) the more effective it would be to prevent or recover compensation from those who destroyed the work.

Timely Response – if you are aware of threats to destroy or mutilate your artwork, respond in a timely manner. Contacting lawyers can help prevent the damage, facilitate negotiations, and if necessary, bring legal actions.

About the author: Juyoun Han, is a lawyer at Eisenberg & Baum LLP based in NYC. Juyoun’s practice includes Art Law, Artificial Intelligence Fairness & Data Privacy, and Disability Rights litigation. She was involved in the 5Pointz litigation and thanks her clients who have opened her eyes to
the world of art.

Note: The views expressed on this post are those of the individual author writing in her individual capacities only – not of any employers or affiliates.

Street art protest images featured here were selected and photographed by Lois Stavsky 

Ori Carino on the Lower East Side

Calicho Arevalo in Gowanus

july4art on the Bowery

Souls NYC in the Bronx, south of West Farms

5 & 6  Amir Diop in Soho and Noho

Unidentified artist in Gowanus

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While exploring the streets on and off Atlantic Avenue in the East New York section of Brooklyn this past Sunday, I came upon a wall of classic graffiti painted by several members of the long-running, Brooklyn-born Ex Vandals crew. Pictured above is veteran style master 2il taking a brief break from his work in progress.  Several more images follow:

Old school graffiti artist Keon

Multimedia artist Panic Rodriguez does Kanye West with classic graffiti writer Clyde to his right

And graffiti veteran Gap RNS at work

Much respect to these pioneers who paved the way to so many–

Photos credit: Lois Stavsky

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When visiting North Philly’s graffiti mecca over at 5th and Cecil B Moore last month, its curator, Tameartz, suggested that I continue walking along Cecil B. Moore Avenue until I reach Hancock Street. And I’m so glad that I did, as near completion was a treasure trove of adjoining magical murals. Featured above is multimedia artist, designer and Sharktown Walls curator Alloyius Mcilwaine. at work. Several more images captured that evening follow:

Sean Lugo in collaboration with Alloyius Mcilwaine

Greta Maletsky, “Mahākāla,” to the left of Seven aka The Love Renegade, “Love Yourself”

Leon Rainbow of Trenton’s Jersey Fresh Jam fame

Large segment of huge collaborative wall fashioned by Naythan Anthony, CAV aka Raw Sol, Seip, & Kyle Boich

Collaborative mural painted by Busta, Seper and John Zerbe

Sharktown Walls was produced in partnership with Prism Studio and Colorspace Labs.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Managed and curated for over 20 years by the talented and dedicated Kensington resident Christian Rodriguez aka Tameartz, the walls along North 5th Street & Cecil B Moore Street consistently host stylishly striking graffiti fashioned by local, national and international artists. The image featured above was painted by Philly-based Colombian artist Busta. Several more images captured while visiting Philly last month follow:

Spanish artist Saoka

Spanish artist Imse

NYC-based Adam Fu and Los Angeles-based Yanoe

And a BODE-inspired production fashioned by TNS members Ant5, Monk, Cash88 and Tameartz — with background and characters by Cash88 and Tameartz — captured at dusk

Also at this site at the relatively new community park,  Sunflower Philly, is an amazing array of collaborative works created by youth, many in collaboration with the artists featured here.

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 6 Sara C Mozeson; 3-5 & 7 Lois Stavsky

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Few NYC street art spots are as reflective of our times as is Freeman’s Alley, located off Rivington Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. And in these challenging times, the nation’s precarious political state and its ongoing pandemic have been the major themes of the street art that has emerged there.

Pictured above is NYC-based artist SacSix‘s portrait of our vice president-elect, Kamala Harris — a representative of the change we so sorely need. Several more images captured this past Sunday follow:

NYC-based Raddington Falls‘ politically-conscious Lego-inspired characters

Crkshnk’s depicts  former NYC mayor and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani as court jester

California-based Jeremy Novy laments the loss of “free hugs” in the time of Covid-19

 NYC-based DeGrupo celebrates President-elect Joe Biden’s victory

NYC-based Eye Sticker — in this pre-election paste-up — asks us to vote out “Trumpkin Season”

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4-6 Ana Candelaria; 3 Lois Stavsky

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